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Building Community and Trust During a Graduate Student Strike

There is that this passage from Camus’s The Rebel that I taught to my college students a couple of years in the past and has caught with me ever since. Talking about revolt towards The Absurd, Camus says that “the logic of the rebel is to want to serve justice so as not to add to the injustice of the human condition, to insist on plain language so as not to increase the universal falsehood, and to wager, in spite of human misery, for happiness.”

I’m a philosophy grad scholar at Temple University. Our graduate scholar union, TUGSA, has been negotiating with the administration for over a 12 months with out a contract and, because of the administration’s refusal to offer us with a wage and advantages that can permit us to dwell within the metropolis the place we examine, educate, and analysis, we’ve been on strike for over a month now (to study extra in regards to the strike, click on right here). Our relationship with the administration shares similarities with “the confrontation between human need and the unreasonable silence of the world” that Camus says provides rise to The Absurd. Nonetheless, these making an attempt occasions have introduced out the true spirit of our philosophical group and taught us an vital lesson in belief and solidarity between college and college students.

Graduate college expertise may be very a lot characterised by the relationships between college and graduate college students, being these important for mentoring, securing letters of advice, networking, and even simply receiving invaluable skilled and private recommendation. Therefore, the danger placing college students face may be very vital, because it extends past the suspension of stipends (or, within the case of Temple’s harsh makes an attempt to bust the strike, medical health insurance and tuition remission as properly). The determination to strike might not be well-received by all, particularly in departments like ours that closely depend on graduate college students as instructors of report (slightly than as Teaching Assistants or graders). Faculty in these departments are instantly affected by the strike, encountering apparent difficulties in fulfilling their educating and analysis obligations. Some college students in some departments at Temple have, sadly, skilled such a lack of solidarity from college, which will definitely impression their relationships lengthy after the present deadlock with the administration is over.

Despite the challenges we face, the philosophy division is main by instance, prioritizing group values and heeding Camus’s name to make use of plain language to handle injustice. Since all graduate scholar staff within the division, together with each union members and non-union members, went on strike on January 31, we have now not solely strengthened {our relationships} with each other however with our college as properly, culminating in philosophy changing into the primary division to publicly declare its backing of graduate college students, as demonstrated on this latest assertion:

As members of the Department of Philosophy college, we assist the calls for of the Temple University Graduate Students’ Association (TUGSA) of their present contract negotiations with the University. We additionally strongly oppose the University’s revocation of placing graduate college students’ tuition and medical health insurance advantages. Our graduate college students depend on Temple medical health insurance to satisfy their primary healthcare wants. Directly threatening the well being and welfare of members of our scholar physique evidences a disregard for our group and undercuts the University’s claims to care about fairness.

Graduate staff are a key a part of our division and our college: with out them, we’re not capable of full our personal analysis, mentor undergraduate college students, or successfully educate college students in our programs. For over a 12 months, TUGSA has put ahead proposals to make sure truthful wages, working circumstances, dependent well being care protection, and go away insurance policies for graduate TAs and RAs. These proposals would enhance the lives of graduate staff, in addition to benefiting our division and enhancing the standard of undergraduate instruction.

We consider that the members of TUGSA, even whereas they’re on strike, stay Temple graduate college students, and we hope that the University will chorus from unnecessarily harsh or disrespectful therapy of them.

Eli Alshanetsky, Philip Atkins, Katie Brennan, César Cabezas, Lee-Ann Chae, Eugene Chislenko, Paul Crowe, Kristin Gjesdal, Espen Hammer, Brian Hutler, Miriam Solomon, and David Wolfsdorf

Department of Philosophy, Temple University

The solidarity and profound sense of belief which have emerged inside our division in latest weeks are essential not just for creating a constructive graduate college expertise, but additionally for fostering an surroundings of respect, kindness, and mutual recognition that permits for significant relationships and good philosophy. The confidence within the values we share and the goodwill we have now for each other are constructing the foundations for a stronger division the place we will flourish. I’m assured it will final lengthy after we win.

Eli Benjamin Israel

Eli Benjamin Israel is a philosophy PhD scholar at Temple University, and beginning in July, a member of the APA’s Graduate Student Council. His principal analysis pursuits are within the discipline of ethical philosophy, with a historic concentrate on Kant, in addition to on up to date debates regarding autonomy, the position of needs in sensible reasoning, and the character of consent in interpersonal relationships


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